sketch of ghostly or zombie rabbit walking upright, with human hands in gloves, wearing a robe-like garment, walking toward right, with PL hand held up to teeth; hand-written text on back of rabbit's garment with thick curving scribbled lines over text and lower front of garment; repeated image in different sizes, printed in black of shaded purple-black, of cartoonish image of smiling man wearing a hood with rabbit ears with "ROO" over top of ears; embossed lines of text throughout, including "render unto Caesar" in bottom margin

© Neal Ambrose-Smith

Render Unto Caesar, 2015

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Neal Ambrose-Smith’s monotype, Render Unto Caesar, from the artist’s “Naughty Bunny” series, features a cartoon-like, anthropomorphized rabbit adorned with a long robe and opera-length gloves. His skeletal face suggests he’s a spirit. In Ojibwe and Cree folklore, the rabbit is the all-powerful trickster, transformer, and culture hero known as Nanabozho (or Wesakaychak). As a trickster, he is conniving and can take many guises and do what he pleases. He is one of many characters elders use to teach children about morality and reason. Here, appearing dazed and ashamed, he displays remorse for his actions. Various truisms, blind embossed on the sheet, seem to float in the background. Among these bits of wisdom are, “diversity of opinion is now legal discrimination”; “it was all or nothing until the money ran out”; and the work’s title, “render unto Caesar.” The title—the opening words of Jesus’ well-known response to the Pharisees who challenged his religious authority—may in fact reference the struggle between Native American spiritualism and the cultural dominance of mainstream America.

Details
Title
Render Unto Caesar
Artist Life
(Kootenai Salish), born 1966
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2015.48.1
Provenance
The artist, Albuquerque, N.M.; (Joe Zanatta Contemporary Art, Shawnee, Kansas).; sold to MIA, 2015.
Curator Approved

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sketch of ghostly or zombie rabbit walking upright, with human hands in gloves, wearing a robe-like garment, walking toward right, with PL hand held up to teeth; hand-written text on back of rabbit's garment with thick curving scribbled lines over text and lower front of garment; repeated image in different sizes, printed in black of shaded purple-black, of cartoonish image of smiling man wearing a hood with rabbit ears with "ROO" over top of ears; embossed lines of text throughout, including "render unto Caesar" in bottom margin

© Neal Ambrose-Smith

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